Knowledge of Automatic Guns When The 2nd Amendment Was Ratified Is A False Hypothesis

While watching the CNN townhall meeting last night, I became interested in how Dana Loesch, spokesperson for the NRA, said that there was knowledge of automatic guns when the Second Amendment was written, so the Second Amendment included ownership of automatic guns.

I’m one who often says that when the Second Amendment was ratified, that the guns of that time consisted of muskets.   Loesch’s rebuttal of that caused me to research today. Loesch named the Belton and Puckle guns as automatic weapons that existed when the Second Amendment was ratified.

I first began my research of the Belton gun.  Wikipedia has a short article on the Belton gun.  That article says that the only evidence of that gun’s existence is the correspondence between Belton and Congress.  It then gives the following history.  (The Wiki article is supported with embedded links to reference material that I’ve removed from the below quote.)

“Congress commissioned Belton to build or modify 100 muskets for the military on May 3, 1777, but the order was cancelled on May 15, when Congress received Belton’s bid and considered it an “extraordinary allowance”. After the war, Belton attempted to sell the design to the British Army, without success.

In his letter to Congress, Belton described his design as:

“I would just informe this Honourable Assembly, that I have discover’d an improvement, in the use of Small Armes, wherein a common small arm, may be maid to discharge eight balls one after another, in eight, five or three seconds of time, & each one to do execution five & twenty, or thirty yards, and after so discharg’d, to be loaded and fire’d with cartridge as usual, which I am ready to prove by experimental proof and can with equal ease fix them so as to discharge sixteen, or twenty, in sixteen, ten, or five seconds of time, which I have kept as yet a secret, thinking that in two, or three Months we might have an army thus equipt, which our enemy should know nothing of, till they should be maid to know it in the field, to their immortal sorrow.”

My conclusion is that Loesch’s representation about the Belton gun was dishonest.  There is no evidence that Belton’s automatic musket ever existed.  Although Congress had knowledge that Belton claimed to have designed a gun that could fire 8 “balls” in 8, 5, or 3 seconds, Congress did not commission its production.

Next, I looked up Puckle guns.  According to Wikipedia;

“The Puckle gun (also known as the Defence gun) was a primitive crew-served, manually-operated flintlock revolver patented in 1718 by James Puckle (1667–1724) a British inventor, lawyer and writer. It was one of the earliest weapons to be referred to as a “machine gun”, being called such in a 1722 shipping manifest.”

The Puckle gun had to be mounted on a tripod.  The cylinder held 6 to 11 musket balls. After each shot, the crank had to be unscrewed to release the cylinder and the cylinder would then be advanced by hand to the next chamber.

Puckle patented his gun in the United Kingdom. It was intended for navel use on ships where it could be setup on its tripod.

“The Puckle gun drew few investors and never achieved mass production or sales to the British armed forces. As with other designs of the time it was hampered by “clumsy and undependable flintlock ignition” and other mechanical problems.”

I found a video demonstrating the Puckle gun.

There is information about both guns beyond Wikipedia, but that is where I started my research.

My conclusion about Loesch’s representation about the Puckle gun is that it was misleading.

Her take on this is that those ratifying the Second Amendment HAD KNOWLEDGE of automatic guns, so she forms a false hypothesis that since they had knowledge, the second amendment was intended to allow citizens to own automatic weapons.  That hypothesis is false because the NRA interprets the Second Amendment to apply to citizens when Belton and Puckle wanted to manufacture their guns for the exclusive use for the military — and Belton’s gun never existed.

I’m pretty sure that there are Constitutional scholars who can compare Loesch’s false hypothesis to other constitutional amendments.

 

Posted on 02/22/2018, in Gun Control, politics and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

    • crustyolemothman

      Dear Xena,

      King Little Hand Trump, was paying little attention during most of the meeting, and the look on his face could cause one to suspect his thought was “when will these people shut up so I can go back to my golf game”? I personally find it disgusting when Mr. Bone (brain?) Spurs, suggests any action that requires bravery and sacrifice, when he refused to attempt it himself when this nation needed him too!!! A coward is quick to suggest what needs to be done, but is never going to take that action himself!!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Mothman,
        In the portion of the meeting when Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill spoke, Trump’s body language spoke volumes. His interruption saying “I just don’t know what that means” is something I can analyze for days. “What gives you knowledge that does not validate what I want?” is what Trump was communicating. Trump was looking for validation for his own ideas, and how dare AG Hill put his knowledge and experience on display!

        Now we have a clue of what White House staff endures when briefing Trump with things he doesn’t want to hear about.

        A true leader interested in what others have to say would have responded along the lines of saying, “Can you explain the countermeasures?” He would not have said “I just don’t know what that means.” Trump was condescending, with arms crossed, then uncrossed when he was ready to take over the talk, indicating that he was opposed to AG Hill speaking and only felt free and open when he, himself, was speaking.

        Trump needs enablers; enablers to co-sign off on what he wants regardless if it’s right or wrong and without question. That is how he conducted himself in business. He tells people what he wants and expects for them to do it without question, nor by knowledge of their experience. Keep in mind that one of his first firings was Sally Yates because she would not defend his immigration ban — an immigration ban that federal courts decided was unconstitutional.

        The NRA is one of Trump’s enablers.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. Spot-on, Xena. The first automatic weapon that can be legitimately equated to modern assault weapons was the Model 1862 Gatling gun for the United States Navy – 71 years after the Second Amendment was adopted.

    Liked by 2 people

    • True, Robert, and I think the Gatling gun also had to be setup on a tripod of some sort. Thanks for reminding us and the information.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the Gatling gun was fixed to the superstructure of ships for naval use, and was mounted on a wheeled carriage for army use.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Robert,
          Thanks for the information. It’s clear that automatic weapons were intended for the exclusive use of the military. When I read the Second Amendment, I hear the same; that the right to bear arms was extended to civilians to support the military.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, that’s true and there’s another reason. Back then, state militias were the primary law enforcement mechanism to roundup fugitive slaves – a big issue at that time.

            Liked by 2 people

            • Robert,
              Well, there we have it. Posses. Night riders.

              It’s always good to know the history for why Amendments were passed. Thanks for the info When the Second Amendment was ratified, it distinctly used the word “militia” so it wasn’t talking about hunting or killing poisonous snakes. It also distinctly used the word “citizens” and we know that there were groups of people who were thought to be property and also Native Americans who were not considered citizens of the state.

              Thanks for the wake-up.

              Liked by 2 people

  2. Liked by 1 person

  3. Hard core haters of President Obama would never have even entertained the idea of new laws or regulations or the banning of gun stocks. I don’t care anymore why it happens. Or for who. As long as it happens.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. While her comment may have been misleading, but in retrospect…they are moot. The problem resides wherein most people are ignorant of the Second Amendment. What was it’s ultimate purpose? That the American people could protect themselves from a rogue & tyrannical government. Also, the Founding Fathers knew that they didn’t and couldn’t know everything; therefore, they wrote into the US Constitution the manner in which future generations could amend it. But over the last many decades, perhaps century, since they could not attain the vote in order to change the constitution, they change the constitution by way of statutes. Which, by the way, is unconstitutional. “A Law repugnant to the Constitution is void.” ~written by Chief Justice Marshall, the Supreme Court, Marbury v. Madison (1803) [which has not yet been overturned.]

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    • Brother Murf,
      True. Most people are ignorant of the Second Amendment. When it was written, the colonies did not have what we know today as the National Guard. Had it been invaded, armed citizens would have been necessary for its defense. One of the obstacles that Illinois faced was not approving conceal carry. It because a constitutional challenge and Illinois was found to be in violation of the constitution. I still don’t know how that was interpreted because Illinois did not deny its citizens the right to own guns — just that they could not conceal carry.

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      • I hope you are not equating the National Guard to be the “militia” as it is referenced in the US Constitution? The militia is made up of all able bodied men (and now women would, too, be included) ages 16-60. The difference between the NG & the militia is that when called to duty, the NG member MUST respond as ordered or face a courts martial; on the other hand, the militia may chose not to go without repercussion. IL, much like NY, NJ CA and several other states just make it harder to obtain weapons. CA , for instance, do not believe that Joe Blow off the street needs to have a gun and then the law enforcement sit on the paperwork; but if a celebrity turns in the paperwork they get right on that…because of their status.

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        • Brother Murf,
          There was no National Guard when the 2nd Amendment was ratified. The militia was intended for the same purpose that later, the National Guard was established to perform.

          Liked by 1 person

          • With all due respect, your assessment is wrong. NG wasn’t created until early 1900s. To use the NG or regular army to respond to insurrection on American soil was a blatant violation of the Possee Comitatus Act of 1878. (This was working hand-in-hand with the Insurrection Act of 1807) Together these acts limited the ability of the federal gov’t to use military on US soil. So to equate the NG to the militia is fallacious reasoning. The militia, according to the constitution, was to respond to insurrection and other problems as such; also, they were the first responders to invasion of the US to buy time for the military. Both acts were obfuscated by the John Warner Defense Act (2005?) signed by Bush (43).

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            • Brother Murf,
              Actually, I think we’re talking about two different things. A “well regulated militia” is what the 2nd Amendment calls it. The term “regulated” indicates taking instructions from someone with governmental authority. It is what I believe later became the National Guard. I realize there are some interpretations that the militia was to protect the people from insurrection, but I see it as something necessary to protect the states from invasion of other countries. One of my reasons for that is because of the history of wars that took place on American soil.

              Maybe we both are not addressing the real point, which for me is, does the 2nd Amendment to allow citizens to own weapons for “a well regulated militia” apply today?

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            • Yes & No. The “well regulated militia” was never changed over to the National Guard. The Purpose of the National Guard was to have a part time military force to prevent the exorbitant growth of the regular military. The National Guard/Reserves were pure military, but only part time. The “well regulated militia” was made up of the able bodied men, 16-60 years of age, and were trained by military minds, but were purely the citizenry of the community. Up until the 1980’s the NG & Res’s were state functional military, but Reagan changed all that and made them part of the US Military. The function of the “well regulated militia” was to protect the people and states from external attack (as an initial force), protect the communities from insurrection and other uprisings, and protect both the state and people from a tyrannical central government.

              Your question: does the 2nd Amendment to allow citizens to own weapons for “a well regulated militia” apply today? Yes, it does. The purpose of the Second Amendment was, as mentioned earlier, to allow the citizenry to protect themselves from a tyrannical government. The historical content of the Second Amendment was, without a doubt, a great accomplishment of Justice Scalia in the District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008) decision, tracing the right of man back to the Magna Carta of 1215. If you think that a tyrannical is not possible these days, then you might want to look at other countries. Hiler’s Germany disarmed the Jews and they were rounded up, their wealth taken, and they were killed to the tune of roughly 4-6 million. Stalin’s Russia disarmed his fellow countrymen and they who chose to disagree with him were rounded up and killed or sent to the Gulags of Siberia (along with their family members) and the Russian people suffered to the tune of 40-60 million deaths. And let us not forget about Mao Tse Tung who swept through China, disarming them, and all those who disagreed with he and his tactics were killed…to the tune of 100 million.

              In our own country there is a case pending (Nevada)where the police wanted to use a man’s home as an observation post for his neighbor. He told the police to go pound sand. He was arrested on a trumped up charge (no pun intended) and then the police used his house anyway. It is the first case, of potentially three, pending on the violation of the Third Amendment.

              See the Second Amendment was a right of the people, not to set up the military. Whereas, one of the obligations of setting up the military was a duty under Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution which states, “To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” If the militia were part of the military, then why is there a separate requirement of the Congress to “To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions”? Because this is both a right and duty of the people. Also, OUR Congress has lapsed in their duties by not fulfilling their duties as written in their job description: “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress.”

              So, the federal military, the National Guard/Reserves, and the militia are three distinct and different entities. At least until the 1980’s. Now they are two entities, one is vibrant and strong and the other is growing but more for private local uses. According to the Constitution the monies raised for a military “…no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.” Yet, our military keeps growing and our Government keeps us in a state of emergency, which permits the military to exist…quite interestingly violative of the founding document…IMO!

              Like

            • Brother Murf,
              I appreciate you taking time for the comment. Having had family that served in the National Guard, I don’t totally agree with your perception for its purpose but am not going to take time to address it. I interpret the second amendment according to its era, and as one who does not believe that humans should kill humans, I will never agree with the concept that people should own guns for that purpose.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I disagree with your assessment, but I appreciate your position. However, to understand the purpose of the second amendment, you do a grave disservice to yourself by “interpreting it as a matter of time period” instead you should read what the founding fathers wrote on the subject. Godspeed my friend!

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            • Brother Murf,
              Since the second amendment is part of our constitution, I have to respect it. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with it. 🙂 I wish that we would get in the position of other countries in terms of gun control.

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            • Sadly, we will always have tyrants on the rise and without the means to stand up and protect our rights…we will have no rights under such tyranny!

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            • Brother Murf,
              I’ve heard that many times, but then I’m reminded of the times when the National Guard was called out on peaceful protesters back in the 60’s, and most recently in Ferguson. Even having citizens armed does not give us authority to do the actions of those sanctioned by the government. The government comes in heavily armed and organized. If an entire community of citizens came out with weapons, they still would not know how to organize to protect themselves. The government sanctioned military can shoot them down, leave their bodies in the streets, and there won’t be a thing that anyone can do about it.

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            • That is a falsehood. IF the Congress would do their jobs, and correctly I might add, they would perform that function as prescribed in the US Constitution: “To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress…” Then the communities WOULD in fact have the discipline and training to do so. READ YOUR CONSTITUTION & KNOW YOUR HISTORY. And your last sentence is precisely why the military is not to have power within the continental US. IF the Congress did their jobs then the military would be much smaller because there is no need for the military to be as big as it is AND it would only be funded for 2 years during times of emergency. What emergency exists? We were never to be the policemen of the world, yet, the police of this country are being more militarized and will at some point be absorbed by the military…not a great thought, but not that big of a stretch to see happening.

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            • Brother Murf,
              Re:

              “We were never to be the policemen of the world, yet, the police of this country are being more militarized and will at some point be absorbed by the military…not a great thought, but not that big of a stretch to see happening.”

              We are agreeing, saying the same thing but differently. There is no way that gun touting citizens can challenge law enforcement, nor the police, and come out on top. We simply don’t have the authority.

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            • Quite honestly, we are not saying the same thing. That is a bit disingenuous. In any fight or battle you do not have to win or be victorious, you just need to fight and or make your stand against tyranny. This may mean you would sacrifice your life that others may continue on the fight. The existence of tyranny grant the necessary authority. “In Congress, July 4, 1776.

              The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.” Remember your history…we were a community of farmers in 1776.

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            • Brother Murf,
              I’m sorry if you don’t see what I see in your comment that puts us on the same page. There are parts where we are not on the same page, and we will never be because I’m opposed to humans killing humans, period.

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            • I am opposed to murder, killing is a different subject. Which implies that it is a heart of man issue, not a gun issue. There are parts where we may agree, but there are far more areas where we do not with the issue(s) we have been discussing.

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            • Brother Murf,
              Thanks for the discussion.

              Liked by 1 person

            • My pleasure, I enjoy the dialogue.😄

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